Wednesday, October 28, 2009

spontaneous and deliberate

the latest in my ongoing struggle between seemingly opposite forces. maybe it’s only a struggle for me, but sometimes when I look at my work the next day, a piece that I “got pretty spontaneous on”, some of the marks look good to me and some look just plain sloppy. don’t get me wrong, I like sloppy a whole lot more than refined, but there is a difference between, say, de Kooning sloppy and your three year old kid’s sloppy. don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of art by three year olds too. it’s just that some of my marks look like they were made with intention, by a real painter, and some of them just look like someone tripped on their way to the canvas with loaded brushes in their hands and stuck them out to break their fall.

look at a painting by Soutine. PAM has that terrific one of the young pastry chef. you talk about spontaneous marks! but there isn’t a single mark that appears accidental, you know?

I have found this to be a real tightrope walk. if I favor one over the other the painting seizes up on me. if it’s too sloppy, and the next day I try to tinker with it and bring a little refinement to it, bah! forget it. the thing will die a rapid death. but if I’m all bravado and two-fisted paint flinging, it looks like one of those paintings that elephants do with their trunks. maybe worse.

john cage said in his “rules of art” that you must separate analysis from creation. I think he’s right, and to that end this struggle can not be dealt with entirely at the time the painting is under way. you can paint-stop-analyze, paint-stop-analyze, but you have to be careful not to kill the creative process. better to just paint-paint and then look at it the next day and see what you think, then paint-paint again.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I think it will be difficult to let go of the secrets of my process to the world at large. Seems like it will remove the mystery and take away some of the power of the work. Who knows? Anyway, I'm not going to describe anything at this point, rather I'll just post this picture of a work in progress. It's about 18 x 24 inches.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What is it?

I'm constantly amazed and enraptured by the bizarre logic of three-year-olds. Probably reading too much into it, but some of the arrangements the daughter leaves or concocts put me into a more innocent, fractured mindset. Not that these examples really communicate that, it's just weird stuff she does.


i painted last night. sometimes it’s enough just to say that. i went to the studio, turned on the heat, put some bob dylan on the stereo, and then went about destroying a perfectly good piece of canvas.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


What does it mean when the light in the piazza in the hotel is more beautiful then the light outside? I would be happy to paint such a beautiful artifice. Is it wrong to be comforted by the artificial twilight of a Las Vegas spectacle?

Monday, October 5, 2009

a grey on grey kind of day

grey. a cello is grey, the sound, I think. and the sky at night, I think no matter what, it’s always grey, either with clouds, or split in half with white stars against black that by dawn will at some point teeter along the line of dawn and merge to grey before giving into light. quiet is grey. grey answers probably hold the most truth because they consider all sides. grey fabric on a clothes line, a faded grey photograph, a grey ocean on a sad day, grey stones, grey cats, grey grace, grey salmon scales, grey moth wings hovering in grey wool. raspberries and turmeric, the blues (does she mean music or paint?...), grass stains on white linen. grey could quite possibly be the most necessary of all colors, against which the rest of the world gives into song.


I made a piece for the 50/50 show at the 100th Monkey Studios. I didn't photograph it, and it sold off the wall. Now I will never have a record of it. (I suppose I could contact the buyer, if that information is furnished for me.)

I'm not even sure if I feel weird about this. It's supposed to be about getting the art out to the people, right?

Is this an interesting thing, or a 'meh' thing?

Sunday, October 4, 2009


to what degree to be representational? this is my question! i'm riding on this crazy pendulum, swinging from abstraction to representation, trying to convey the beauty and power and mystery of nature. is it modern to be representative? (should i care?) abstraction is a hundred years old for heaven's sake.

does this ever get easy? (do we want it to?) if it becomes easy, does that mean we aren't pushing hard enough? i love to paint more than anything, but it's no tea party.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


october, go slow, and let us have more days of golden, slanting light.